COVID-19 had a huge mortality impact in the US in 2020 and accounted for the majority of the 1.5-year reduction in 2020 life expectancy at birth. There were also substantial racial/ethnic disparities in the mortality impact of COVID-19 in 2020, with the Black and Latino populations experiencing reductions in life expectancy at birth over twice the reduction experienced by the White population. Despite continued vulnerability of the Black and Latino populations, the hope was that widespread distribution of effective vaccines would mitigate the overall impact and reduce racial/ethnic disparities in 2021. In this study, we use cause-deleted life table methods to estimate the impact of COVID-19 mortality on 2021 US period life expectancy. Our partial-year estimates, based on provisional COVID-19 deaths for January-early October 2021 suggest that racial/ethnic disparities have persisted and that life expectancy at birth in 2021 has already declined by 1.2 years from pre-pandemic levels. Our projected full-year estimates, based on projections of COVID-19 deaths through the end of 2021 from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, suggest a 1.8-year reduction in US life expectancy at birth from pre-pandemic levels, a steeper decline than the estimates produced for 2020. The reductions in life expectancy at birth estimated for the Black and Latino populations are 1.6-2.4 times the impact for the White population.
Competing Interest Statement
The authors have declared no competing interest.
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Aging under Award Number T32AG000037. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
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Paper in collection COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 preprints from medRxiv and bioRxiv
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